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Jan 11, 2007 04:14 PM

Orlando recommendations?

My friend and I will be coming to town for a conference in early Feb. We'd like to go out to a couple of good restaurants while we are in town, perhaps one casual and one nicer. If there is some good (but not wild - we are kind of past that stage of life!)nightlife, we'd love that recommendation too. We are staying at the Dolphin and will have no children with us -- kid-friendly is not a requirement. We are from Dallas, so have many chains here already. If there is something good that is not a chain, that would be our first pick. We haven't yet decided whether to rent a car. Will we need/want one? We haven't figured out what to do with the week-end before the conference starts so would love any suggestions on that too. Are there any inexpensive breakfast places near our hotel?

Thanks for your help, chowhounds!

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  1. Check out my review of Raglan Road, an Irish Pub & Restaurant at Downtown Disney. My wife and I had a WONDERFUL meal there on New Year's day.

    Here's the link:

    1. You're in luck, because within walking distance to the Dolphin is the Disney Boardwalk, which should fulfill your nightlife requirements -- it's not nearly as wild as Pleasure Island, more live music than DJ-type clubs. My folks and I had a decent time at Jellyrolls, a singalong dueling-piano bar along the lines of Howl at the Moon.

      I haven't eaten over there, but heard good things about Flying Fish Cafe and Spoodles.

      The Dolphin and Swan hotels are connected, and their signature dining page is here:

      There have been great reviews on this board for Bluezoo (Todd English), which should satisfy your fine-dining request. Shula's is a chain steakhouse -- not the best in Orlando but should do if you want a nice steak and won't have a car.

      Also, you can hop a bus outside your hotel that will take you basically anywhere on Disney property -- so search this board for "Disney" and you'll get tons more recommendations.

      As for whether you need a car -- if you have transportation to your conference site, and you can go around Disney property, and the park restaurants seem like what you're lookign for, I think you should be fine. If you'll have park tickets, that opens up a lot more dining options, many of which are excellent. (Though some of the hotels have great dining too; Jiko, Boma, Yachtsman Steakhouse, anything at the Grand Floridian, etc.) If you're aiming for an in-depth chowhound search, trekking about for hidden gems, etc., yeah, you'll need a car. Orlando's a BIG city.

      Hope that helps!

      1. As for inexpensive breakfast, you could try Picabu in the dolphin. Also Spoodles near the Boardwalk has a sit down breakfast.

        Also if you need menus or anything check out

        1. If you rent a car, drive over to Celebration, it's kind of a weird little town, but we had a great italian meal at Cafe D'Antonio.